I was recently invited to friends’ old family home in Charente-Maritime, a region in southwest France about three and a half hours by high-speed train from Paris. I can only describe the weekend I spent there as tranquil.
Across the road from their home was a huge field of sunflowers, which in French are tournesols—tourner means “to turn” and sol stands for soleil, or sun. Have you ever stood before countless sunflowers, all facing you? The experience blew me away. It was quiet all around, but I didn’t feel alone.
I walked on past the sunflowers and ended up wandering for about an hour and a half. I might have gotten a little lost. I found my way back, though. I took the “scenic route.” It’s often the best one.
You won’t be surprised to know that I felt like I could breathe deeply there.My hosts attend Mass at this old Roman church that dates from the twelfth century. I can only imagine how cold it gets in winter, but on the summer day that I took a look inside, it was airy and bright with the doors wide open.All weekend, the other guests and I had the company of a chat abandonné (doesn’t “stray cat” sound so much sadder in French?). When I arrived Friday night, he had already been there for at least two days. My hostess’s brother said that a lot of people come to the countryside and leave their pets that they no longer want to take care of.We became quite attached to the thin little creature. Well, most of us, anyway. The hostess threw water on him to shoo him away from the front door. She also freaked out when one person who was especially sympathetic to him offered him leftover chicken terrine.
The guest who slipped our feline friend tidbits decided to take him back to Paris. I was relieved. We discussed possible names, how to transport him, and that I would visit him. Imagine our dismay, then, then, when the cat didn’t appear on Sunday morning.
For a few days after I got back to Paris, I wondered what happened. Then yesterday I received an email from the cat’s new best friend. He told me that the cat had reappeared and that he had bought food and a carrier for it. For the moment they were going to leave it with a neighbor, but if no one claimed it, he wanted to eventually bring it to the City of Lights.
To be continued?